Birmingham is a diverse city. Being the city at the the crossroads of England, and with a long, proud history of welcoming outsiders in, it has a multitude of things to do and see. From shopping to sight-seeing, you won’t be left lacking for entertainment should you choose to visit the city.
Here are just some of the attractions Birmigham has to offer.
Birmingham’s retail reputation has been resurgent for the past decade now, and the Bullring shopping centre was (and still is) the driving force behind it. Housing tonnes of stores, that range from clothing and entertainment, to fast food and niche stores, you’ll find exactly what you need here. There is also the adjoining, three storey high Selfridges store, complete with restaurants and a Krispy Kreme donut outlet.
Not that the shopping stops once you leave the Bullring. There is also the Pallasades shopping plaza, and the streets that lead to the centre, which include the likes of Primark, Waterstones, and Odeon Cinemas.
For those looking for something more upmarket than the hustle and bustle of the Bullring, the Mailbox is the place for you. Shopping is just the start at this complex – it also boasts some of the cities best restaurants, and will soon see the first West Midlands branch of up-scale cinema chain Everyman. It is also the home of BBC Birmingham, housing both the BBC WM radio service and BBC Midlands Today news programme (both of which are open for public viewing).
We’re sure you’ve all heard the old pub quiz fact – Birmingham has more canals than Venice. But it’s true, and you can see the miles and miles of open waterways for yourself with a canal tour. Offering a peaceful yet quirky tour of the city, that offer a different perspective on life in the old industrial city, it’s something you are likely to remember for a long time.
A second well known fact about Birmingham is that it is the home of Cadbury’s chocolate. Those wishing to take a look behind the doors of the famous Bournville factory (or chocoholics looking for their next treat!) can explore Cadbury World, a tour that takes in both the in-operation factory, and purpose built exhibitions and attractions. It’s a great all the family, though those looking to stick to New Year’s Resolutions may want to steer clear!
Sea Life Centre
Another famous tourist attraction of Birmingham is the National Sea Life Centre. Opened in 2006, it houses hundreds of different species, from octopus and crabs to tropical fish and stingrays. It’s newest addition, opened in 2014, is an icy installation housing a colony of Gentoo penguins, which compliments the already impressive ocean tank walk through tunnel, with it’s sea turtles and hammerhead sharks.
Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum
Want a more educational day out? The Thinktank Birmingham is an ideal family day trip. Far from being a stuffy old museum with exhibitions behind glass, the Thinktank includes a planetarium, a science garden, and over 20 interactive exhibits about the history of Birmingham and it’s manufacturing heritage.
When it comes to entertainment, there is nothing that Star City can’t provide. Built on derelict industrial land in 2000, it has broken many records in it’s 15 years of being open. At one point, the 25 screen Vue cinema was the biggest in Europe, and today has one of the most diverse screening schedules, showing the best from both Hollywood and Bollywood.
Elsewhere, it has a 22 lane bowling alley, England’s first 36 hole indoor mini golf course, a laser tag arena, indoor climbing, and places to eat from up and down the scale, from KFC and Nandos to fine dining experiences like Shere Khan and Piccante.
Don’t think Birmingham doesn’t cater to just families though. The city’s nightlife is as vibrant and varied as the people who live there, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the world famous Broad Street. Lined top to bottom with nightclubs, bars and restaurants, it’s a fantastic night out, only a stones throw away from New Street train station. Not that clubbing is all it offers – at one end, there is the Cineworld cinema, with it’s giant IMAX screen, and at the other there is Symphony Hall and the ICC (International Convention Centre), which puts on great shows year round.
Barclaycard Arena, Genting Arena, and the NEC
Speaking of shows, some of the countries best arenas and convention centres can be found in the city. The newly refurbished Barclaycard Arena (formerly the NIA) sits in the heart of the city, surrounded by the famous canals of the city. It’s sister arena, the Genting Arena (formerly the LG Arena & the NEC Arena) is part of the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) complex adjacent to Birmingham International Airport.
The NEC is one of the top 3 biggest convention centres in the world, and sits at No. 10 on the worldwide list of biggest buildings. The Genting Arena is also on a worldwide top 10 list, this time for busiest arenas, where it sits just behind Madison Square Garden in New York. It attracts the biggest and best in music, live shows and sports.
Have you been to Birmingham? What are your favourite things to do? Tell me in the comments section below!